Freitag, 30. Oktober 2015

Speak Korean?

I've been taking basic korean courses for two months now and so far I know the korean alphabet which is called hangeul, which means I know how to write and I know how to say the most basic things like hello, my name is Melanie, I'm swiss, I'm a student. Also I know how to count, I know some fruits, some professions and I know how to sing a song about a bear family.

I really like learning korean, because our teacher is just the funniest and most adorable person ever. Her english is almost non-existant, which means she uses korean in order to explain korean to us. This has been proven as very tricky in many ocassions. Sometimes (or rather often) we would ask her a question in english for example: Teacher, why is this word spelled like that? and she would respond with a loud OKAY! accompanied by some heavy nodding. In fact she says Okay a lot when she doesn't know what to say, but that is another reason why I like her.
At the beginning it was hard to follow her, because that woman moves really fast, she doesn't waste no time, but as I've been a good student so far and I've been keeping up with my homework, I find understanding her and what she wants to tell us with her limited english knowledge, better and easier with every single lesson.

Korean is a superdifficult language in terms of everything in my opinion. But once you know the alphabet it makes your life in korea one tiny bit easier. Because although you can read, that doesn't mean you'll understand what the words are saying. However I realized that there are quite a few words in korean that are directly derived from the english language and which I find superfunny to read and pronounce. And that also means that sometimes you do know what you're reading, because it's exactly the same in english, just pronounced in a korean way.

Some examples:

고 피 ko-pi : coffee
오 렌 지 eo-ren-ji : orange
컴 표 터 kom-pju-to : computer
파 인 애 플 pa-in-ae-peul : pineapple
치 즈 chi-jeu : cheese
머 핀 meo-pin : muffin
바 게 트 ba-ge-teu : baguette
바 나 나 ba-na-na : banana
배 bae : pear
핸 드 펀 haen - deu- pon : hand phone
프 랜 스 peu-ren-seu : france
핀 렌 드 pin - raen- deu : finland
토 마 토 to-ma-to : tomato
팬 게 이 크 paen-ke-i-keu : pancake
오 믈 렛 o-meul-les : omelette
크 로 와 상 keu-ro-ua-sang : croissant

When I go grocery shopping I'm still not skilled nor confident enough to speak in korean, because as I already mentioned, I look korean to the koreans, which means that If I said annyeonghaseyo (hello in korean) to them they would immediately start talking in superfast korean to me. Sometimes people just keep on talking korean, eventhough I told them that I don't understand nor speak any korean.
With my korean skills that I have so far, I'm not able to make any conversations with someone, unless we would start a conversation about a family of bears. But my goal is not to speak perfect korean anyways. It's just nice to finally be able to filter out some words in my daily life here in Seoul. It makes me feel more safe in a way.

Donnerstag, 15. Oktober 2015

Seoul Photo Diary: the second month

Here are some random seoul moments captured on my cell phone camera from the past few weeks. A week from now it's exactly going to be two months since I arrived in Seoul! Can't believe it's already half time. My parents and my brother are arriving tomorrow evening! I already made a rough plan of what I want to show them and of course what food I want them to try. I'm excited to show them all the places that I've enjoyed most so far and I'm curious to find out if they will like it as much as I did!

doing homework in one of the many cafés in hongdae whilst drinking iced americano

one of my favorite things to do in seoul is to visit the korean food market that is 8 minutes from my home by foot

PDA much? a Couple slow-dancing on the basketball court at my uni

fact: there are no ugly babies in seoul

tripping in seoul: went to the Iwha Mural Village one lovely Sunday to see the flower stairs that I saw on pinterest so many times

fact: korean people are obsessed with mirrors, cause you can find one EVERYWHERE!

My mirror, my window, my view from my room

On the lookout for hideous clothes? go to the dongdaemun wholesale shops in one of the many shopping complex there and I'm sure you'll find something

celebrating Charlies Birthday! After Korean BBQ we went to another place to have soju and fries. I told them to pose seductively. 

I love it when the subways don't stay underground for a change

my fellow internationals wearing the korean traditional costume in Korean Class

Claire, we are on CCTV! My flatmate and I at the Seoul Modern Contemporary Art Museum

digestive walk to the main gate of the most famous palace in Seoul (Gyeongbokgung) after an amazing dinner 

digestive walk with selfie interruptions

Dreamy Claire on the Subway. On our way to Incheon, a city that is an hour away from Seoul.

Once arrived in Incheon doing what I love most: eat.

would you like to have bread with your red bean? This was amazing. Did I mention that I love everything that involves sweet red bean?

Over Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) my international friends and I went to an amusement park outside of Seoul

foreigners sitting on the floor playing games to kill the time

foreigners taking selfies to kill the time

Chicken Skewers are being sold by many many streetfood vendors. It was ok, nothing special. I'd rather have Gimbap instead.

around 12 pm at Monsters Pizza with my korean friend Sabrina

My friend Constanza eating air instead of the pizza 
We went on an artifical island for the fireworks festival the other weekend

Man, they sure love Monsters Pizza. Here they ordered the famous pepperoni Pizza for takeaway.

the island was so packed with people and their tents and camping blankets, we arrived there pretty late, so all the good spots were already taken

the hongdae playground during the weekends: young artists sell their handmade products or offer portraits for good prices

October is the month of Festivals! Here at the Hi Seoul Festival: a parade with traditional korean musicians

Last weekend I woke up early and went to have a look at Yonsei University, one of the biggest Unis here in Seoul. It's huge and I saw these funny looking trees there. 

One of the biggest suprises ever: I thought this Egg Bread was going to be savory, but it was sweet! Very delicious! I got it for less than 1 CHF from a streetfood vendor!

Shopping in Myeongdong, an area with many many shops and streetfood. It's a very touristic place and always crowded.

streetfood in Myeongdong. They always sell the same things: Gimbap, deep-fried Shrimps and Veggies and Tteokkbokki (spicy Rice Cake).

Sushi Dinner with my lovely korean Classmates from Claywork class 

These are all the soju flavors you can get! One bottle for 15000 W which is 1.25 CHF. Such a cheap way to get drunk!

Samstag, 10. Oktober 2015

the actual reason I'm here

The main purpose I came to Seoul for is to study. I find myself to ignore this fact from time to time, because if it wasn't for the Creditpoints and the fact that I need them to enter my last semester in my home university next year, I would take more time to explore this place not only on weekends but also during the week. But I guess I will have some less busy times somewhen and still be able to see places in the next three months that I'm here. By the way, I already booked my flight to Bangkok over Christmas, which I'm superexcited about! It will be my first time spending Christmas not only in another country, but also in the heat and probably sipping fresh coconutwater at the beach during my breaks from scuba-diving in the sea! Woohoo! 
But let's get back to my main reason why I'm here. Yes I do have school: I booked 6 courses, of which only one is not being taught in korean. The courses that I chose are (1) Printmaking Workshop, (2) Techniques of Basic Printmaking, (3) Design Research, (4) Dyeing Practice, (5) Claywork and (6) Basic Korean. In total i will be making 12 ECTS Points here, which is around 28 ECTS in Zurich.
I'm gonna show you some impressions of practical courses I just mentioned.

Printmaking Workshop and Techniques are pretty much the same. In those two classes we get to work very independently. The professors would make and introduction to the printmaking techniques like collagraph, intaglio + relief print and linocut at the beginning of the class and the rest of the time we get to try out and experiment with the techniques. This is what I love about these two courses! I feel no pressure at all and it feels like art foundation all over again! I'm so happy I chose these two courses. It's the very first time I'm doing printmaking and I really enjoy doing it. It's very oldschool, no technology envolved, everything done by hand! Some of you might know that I'm very into working this way.

Technique of Collagraphing: Collecting different textured items and glueing them on a cardboard plate

Here I tried creating a pattern and more textures by peeling the cardboard
this is how a room in the printmaking department looks like. We use the barrel to make the print.
Using papers with different thicknesses and surfaces to create the pattern 
the result after printing a relief

 In Dyeing class we are looking at Screenprinting right now. I've done it before, and I remember that I didn't really like it, because it involves so many smalls steps and I remembered how impatient I was. However I feel like I had to give it another go. For the motif we had to decide for a trend, I decided to look at korean girls hairstyles, because they are so easy to illustrate. So far I've done the pattern and transferred it to the tracing paper, which we will use to transfer the print onto the silkscreen. The course involves a lot of waiting, because we are a big class. Yesterday I basically went to class for nothing. I was just waiting the whole three hours and in the end I didn't even get to use the machine to prepare the frame.

first sketches of the most popular korean hairstyles

the silkscreens

trying out different color combinations on photoshop whilst eating Gimbap

the two layers which will be two different colors

Claywork is the most demanding Course that I chose. Firstly because I have never done Claywork before (except for once in Drawing Class in High School, but that doesn't really count), second of all because I'm the only exchange student in that course (everyone is so skilled, it scares me) and lastly because I have to get work done besides class (which is kinda annoying, but I should've expected it). Our first assignment was to paint a dish with special ceramic colors, which once dried, you can scratch it off with tools and create an image/pattern. The second assignment was to make a sculpture with coiling technique and then paint it with those colors. When deciding for what kind of sculpture I wanted to make, I just wanted to find the most simple shape possible. So I decided to make a fat Figure that is wearing a facekini and bathing suit with half of her body in the water. I saw this photo spread of Chinese Woman by the seaside and got inspired by it.

Randomnly applying layers of color

After Scratching a random pattern

After firing the plate and before it fell on the ground and broke in two pieces (so sad)
sketch that I did last minute before class

Oh hi there

After it spent some time in the kiln

Now I'm ready to paint my sculpture and I really hope I can make it look more professional and not like an elementary school bricolage. If you could see what my other classmates made you would laugh at my silly sculpture. You might be laughing already. 
My professor sad it's too tiny, she wanted us to make a sculpture of 20 - 30 centimetres height, and mine is like 15 cm lol. My excuse was that I want to be able to take it back to Switzerland (I don't plan on taking it back home though, it's just gonna take up so much weight, which I really need for clothing shopping). She didn't really understand and told me I should do something additionally, to make it bigger, that's why I decided to make an umbrella. My plan is to paint the umbrella and all and then just accidentally drop it so I don't have to glue it on to the sculpture. 

The Design Research Course is very theoretical and a bit practical. It's mostly group work and listening to the English Professor talk about how to go about finding solutions to a design problem, how the importance of a designer has changed over the years and so on. I wish I didn't take this course, even though I find it quite interesting, but I really don't enjoy group works and I should have rather opted for another practical course like printmaking instead. But well, it's too late now.

Basic Korean is so fun. The teacher doesn't speak English at all and she tries to teach us Korean using Korean only (almost). She knows like very very little English but somehow it works out, for me at least. I feel like you have to be very interested and motivated to learn the language, otherwise it's almost impossible or just very frustrating to keep up with her pace. Korean is not an easy language, but because I know Chinese, I feel like it's easier for me to understand her. We learned the Korean Alphabet which is called Hangeul. You have consonants and vowels and in order to write words you have to join them to several syllables. It's a lot of fun reading Korean once you studied all the characters. Also it's funny how some korean words are directly derived from English, for example Tomato which is literally to-ma-to in korean, or Television, that is tel-le-bi-jion. Most important for me is to learn to say and read korean dishes, so I know how to read the menus in restaurants hehe. 

All in all I'm superhappy with the courses that I have picked. I seldomnly wake up in the morning and don't feel like going to School. Sometimes I wish I had more time to go travelling and exploring places but I also appreciate having the opportunity to study at Hongik University and the chance to attend these great courses. I'm really happy that I'm in Seoul right now and I'm enjoying my time here.